16 Nov 2019 Is It Time for Your Association to Rebrand?
Is your association membership sluggish? Have you drifted from its original mission? Perhaps your website and materials look dated and irrelevant next to those of your competitors.
In each case above, it may be time to rebrand your association, which can entail anything from an aesthetic or technological overhaul to completely changing your focus and offerings.
If you think rebranding might be right for your group, here are seven questions to ask before making any permanent major changes.
Is your revenue suffering?
Lack of funding is a common reason for brand changes. There’s nothing like a balance in the red to light a fire under the board. Some reasons for financial difficulties include:
- Dwindling membership
- Poor board participation or board in-fighting
- Decreased conference participation
- Too few revenue streams
- Competitive associations that siphon participants
In each case above, a different type of rebranding must take place. For example, if membership is lagging, it may be that you’re not offering anything useful to professionals, who are attracted to a different organization with better mentoring.
You need to uncover the specific reason, so you can fix it appropriately. Your association might want to change membership structure, update learning methods, develop new revenue streams, or offer something your competition doesn’t.
Have you had one or more total turnovers in people since the organization’s inception?
Sometimes an association gets away from its original mission or outgrows its early brand because of changes in people over time. The longer your association has been around, the more it may have traveled some distance from its origins.
If you find this is the case, it’s okay. Having a venerable institution is admirable, but it’s natural that the group won’t stay the same as 100 or 50 years ago. Maybe a fresh start is warranted that better reflects your current existence.
Are you thinking about changing the association’s name?
There are times when an organization name change is necessary because of things like copyright issues, updates in the profession, or relocation. Or a new name might better reflect new members or a broadened mission.
This type of rebranding comes with a tangible cost. Your association will have to pay for new print materials, new marketing, website changes, and usually, legal fees.
Do you need a makeover for your website and/or print materials?
While this type of rebranding can be costly, like a name change, it’s a one-off expense. If your website looks like it’s from the dawn of the Internet or your materials are outdated, it’s time for a makeover.
It’s best to conduct this type of rebranding as a cohesive whole, rather than piecemeal fashion. Hiring a design professional to help with the appearance of everything may well be worth the expense.
And do you still need printed materials? How about switching to more cost-effective, sustainable online content?
How could you improve the member user experience?
The reason your association exists is to serve members. Therefore, their experience should be your number one priority. You may not see membership dwindling (yet), but you may not be providing what members need.
The best way to determine if your end users are happy is simply to ask them via a survey or focus group. If the improvements are serious enough, you may have a rebranding on your hands.
Would changing your communication methods make a significant difference?
With organizations with older boards and staff, communication can get a little stagnant or outdated. Maybe you want to develop your own app or eliminate printed materials.
Perhaps one of your two conferences can be replaced by online coursework. Switching to cyber communication can be a major move you want to share with the world that justifies rebranding.
How would you roll out a rebranding effort?
One final consideration: if you take the trouble to rebrand, how will you share it with the world?
Depending on the type of rebranding you’re doing, your roll-out will differ. You might want to make an announcement at your annual conference, when you have the most people in front of you. An editorial in a major newspaper or magazine can also capitalize on a large audience. Or, if you get a lot of website traffic, a new banner on the homepage might do the trick.
This is where hiring a marketing professional can be a wise choice. For help with branding, marketing, and many other association tasks, Jaffe Management is here for you. Get in touch today, and let us know how we can assist your association.